Counteraction


[Precursor To This Presentation: There are some people who do not see that there is a racial problem in the U.S. (among other problems). It is sometimes difficult to see a problem when you are not involved in it and you are told by another party. We speak on this topic knowing that there is a multi-layered problem and we encourage you to reach out to us to dialog if you have any questions, comments, concerns and/or suggestions]


THE PROBLEM


The stain of racism and injustice continues to permeate the U.S. culture. With the recent murders of unarmed black citizens, this country and the world has exploded in response to these continued atrocities and we as Christians should be asking what can we do in these situations.

Before we can figure out if and what we should be doing anything, we should ask if The Bible addresses similar type of action, violence or pain inflicted upon another:


WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?


Before looking forward, let’s go back….

BLACK U.S. HISTORY (SNAPSHOT)


  • First Africans brought to the US (Virginia) in 1619. [1]
  • As there was a rise in slavery, there was a rise in the Abolitionist Movement.
  • The Abolitionist Movement was an organized effort to end slavery in the United States. There were different groups that pushed for an end to slavery, including:

A) The American Colonization Society – this society was organized by the Rev. Robert Finley and formed in 1817 to send free Blacks back to Africa. This society also established an African colony that became the independent nation called Liberia in 1847. By 1867, they had emigrated 13,000 individuals. [2]

B) The American Anti-Slavery Society was created by William Lloyd Garrison [3] in 1833. By 1840, the society had branches that numbered 2,000, and they had a total membership ranging from 150,000 to 200,000. There were many supporters who came from religious circles to help the organization and they also had blacks serving on the Board of Managers.


MILLERITES / ADVENTISTS VOCAL ABOUT SLAVERY

  • Williams Still was a black preacher who spent his life working with the Anti-Slavery Society and the Underground Railroad. He also accepted the Millerite teachings and also later experienced the Great Disappointment of 1844. [4]
  • Sojourner Truth visits at least 2 Camp Meetings led by the Millerite Movement and she accepts the Advent teachings for a time. [4]
  • J.N. Andrews wrote an article titled “Thoughts on Revelation XIII and XIV” in which J.N. Loughborough identified the U.S. as the beast in Rev 13:11-18 based on its treatment of black people (emphasis added). He said “If ‘all men are born free and equal,’ how do we then hold three million slaves in bondage?  Why is it that the negro race are reduced to the ranks of chattels personal, and bought and sold like brute beasts?”… the lamb is such only in pretensions. He [America] is dragon in character.” [4] [5]
  • Loughborough also identified the U.S. as Babylon because of its treatment of black people in his article, The Two-Horned Beast. [4] [6]
  • Uriah Smith in this epic poem of June 1853 also reprimands the U.S. for slavery and also identifies it as Babylon and the beast. [7]
  • John Byington, the church’s first General Conference President, was said to have used his home as a stop in the Underground Railroad. [8]
  • Ellen G. White spoke vehemently against slavery and the duties the church has to the colored people and the work that must be done. After the abolition of slavery, White’s son, Edson White, pioneered the work in the South via his boat The Morning star. Many schools, churches, and ministries were created during that time including The Oakwood Industrial School (opened in 1896) which is now called Oakwood University. [9] [10]

BLACK U.S. HISTORY CONTINUED (SNAPSHOT)


  • Civil War (1861-1865). The primary reason for the war was the different views the North and South had in regards to slavery. [11]
  • Emancipation Proclamation (1862). Although it was issued in 1862, it took effect in 1863. This proclamation announced “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.” [12]
  • The 13th Amendment (1865). This amendment outlawed slavery and involuntary servitude except as punishment for a crime, so slavery got ‘modified’ a bit {but that’s for a different discussion}. [13]

Throughout the decades, race-related attacks and abuses continued to plague black America including:

  • Tulsa Massacre in Black Wall Street (1921): There was a prosperous Black community in Tulsa Oklahoma (around early 1920’s), which was then nicknamed Black Wall Street. In 1921, a 19 year old black teenager in the community [Dick Rowland] was accused of attempted sexual assault against a 17 year old white teenage [Sarah Page]. This sparked a chain of events that led to what is called the Tulsa Race Massacre. It is estimated about 300 died, thousands were injured and all the black businesses were destroyed. [14]
  • Brutality Against Supporters of the Civil Rights Movement (1950-1960s): Although there were peaceful protests during this time, many supporters were met with violence and even murdered . Once again, the Adventist Church was connected with this movement [15]. A Tim Reid of WAAY News Oakwood said that Oakwood was the only place in Huntsville that hosted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when he was in town. [16]
  • Rodney King Riots (1992): In 1991, four officers brutally beat a man named Rodney King, after he tried to escape from them. After all four officers were acquitted a year later, rioting began in Los Angeles resulting in 50 deaths, more than 2000 injured and over 9000 arrested. [17]

THE SOLUTION


Hatred, oppression, injustice and racism are all sin issues. Ultimately, the solution is Jesus, but we have principles from The Bible and the prophetic writings that show us how we can and should get involved:


1. LESSONS TO LEARN AND LESSONS TO UNLEARN:

We have many lessons to learn, and many, many to unlearn. God and heaven alone are infallible. Those who think that they will never have to give up a cherished view, never have occasion to change an opinion, will be disappointed. As long as we hold to our own ideas and opinions with determined persistency, we cannot have the unity for which Christ prayed.

Selected Messages, Book 1 by E.G. White, pg 37.3
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD - Isaiah 55:8. 

Because many see some social (and spiritual) issues as political, many Christians are shying away from speaking up against the injustices done to mankind.
There is a need to clearly delineate between political and moral issues. We know that we are called to uphold the separation between ‘Church and State’ but we are also called to help the oppressed, comfort the fatherless and widows, and to meet the needs of others. 

Jesus gave a great response when it came to political issues (Matthew 22:21) “... Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s”. He admitted there are things that are Caesar’s (the government) and things that are God’s, so we need to know the difference between the two and give to each entity what it theirs.


2. MEET THE NEEDS OF THE COMMUNITY

We are called to be a light, wherever we are and we are called to be salt wherever we are (Matt 5:13, 14). At this time it appears that the avenues which were wide open before have become painfully narrowed but we still have a work to do. God has placed us in our communities to be living, loving examples of Him and to be conduits of his grace to all persons.

Ask the Lord to open your eyes to where He would want you to work. There is a lot of need and a lot of work to be done. Work where lies nearest to you and be diligent in what you sign up to do (remember you are representing Christ as you work for Him). After praying, focus on your own personal ministry or research and join already-existing agencies or groups who are meeting the needs of others. Just remember to know who it is you are affiliating with (and what their principles are).

Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, “Follow Me.”

Ministry of Healing by E.G.White page 143.3

3. BY PEN OR BY VOICE

You cannot legislate love, you cannot legislate morality, but can legislate action and that is what laws do in a country.

Resolved, that in our judgment., the act of voting when exercised in behalf of justice, humanity and right, is in itself blameless, and may be at some times highly proper; but that the casting of any vote that shall strengthen the cause of such crimes as intemperance, insurrection, and slavery, we regard as highly criminal in the eight of Heaven. But we would deprecate any participation in the spirit of party strife.

The Adventist Review & Sabbath Herald, 5/23/1865

We are called to vote on laws and exercise our right to vote for that which strengthen Godly principles or vote against those (as were just mentioned) that strengthen the cause of crimes (which included slavery).

Were we living under an absolute monarchy, all we could do would be to pray ; but in this Republic we have an instrument given us with which we can second our prayers, and that is, our ballot. Had Paul, in his day, heard of unjust laws that were liable to be enacted, he would, according to his instructions to Timothy, have prayed against them ; and had there been any other way in which he could have influenced the matter, of course he would have used it. To enter in any sense into partisan politics, to drink in of a political spirit, or adopt political methods, would be wholly unbecoming, inconsistent, and wrong. But to pray that we may have rulers who will so administer the affairs of the Government that we may lead quiet and peaceable lives, and have opportunity to do our work, would certainly be right; then if we can in any way help to put such men into office, would not that be consistent with our prayers ? To pray that just laws may be enacted, that intemperance may be re-strained, and that every good reform among men may be greatly promoted, would certainly be right. Then to labor to such ends is a duty

The Adventist Review & Sabbath Herald, Feb 17 1891, page 104

We must petition elected officials when we can (by pen) and speak up when we can (by voice) when we see oppression. Like the pioneers that came before us, they were very much involved in the work of freeing others from persecution and elevating them to their high calling as sons and daughters of The Living God. This is still our work today.

We pray that this presentation has been a tremendous blessing. May we prayerfully consider the times in which we live in, and do our part.


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